About a month ago, Toyota unveiled its most luxurious SUV. The Century is Japan’s answer to the Rolls-Royce Cullinan and is highly limited to just 30 units per month. To many, it is a luxed-up, lifted, SUV, and a more imposing version of the Century sedan. For Toyota, however, it isn’t a sport utility vehicle.

The Japanese automaker has published a new three-page report in its own Toyota Times corporate magazine, which details the development of the Century SUV. The article explains that the development was led by Yoshikazu Tanaka, who joined Toyota in 1987 and has worked as chief engineer within the company. The design was overseen by Tatsuyda Sonoda, who has worked on more than 30 models of the company. And while the entire feature is interesting, we find one part particularly intriguing.

Gallery: 2024 Toyota Century SUV

Many people would probably argue the Century is a typical SUV. Just take a look at the high beltline, the massive wheel arches, and the body cladding in a contrasting color, and you’ll probably agree. However, Toyota doesn’t agree with this definition.

“We arrived at this profile by focusing on the backseat passenger, pursuing a car that inherits the unique Century character while catering to the diversifying values of the times. From that perspective too, we never set out to build an SUV. I would describe this car as a “new concept for chauffeur-driven mobility,” Tanaka explains. 

But who is Toyota’s target with the new century? Well, in a previous article, the automaker’s boss Akio Toyoda said the luxury not-SUV "will also suit younger people" as well as those "who previously felt that a Century [sedan] was not for them." This was rather surprising considering that the starting price of the model in Japan is approximately $167,000 with current exchange rates – one might begin to wonder how many young people can afford a vehicle that is almost five times more expensive than the Land Cruiser 300

Lead designer Sonoda shines more light on the overall concept. “The Century is more than just another model within the Toyota brand – it carries Toyota’s corporate identity. The Century has a distinctive “Centuryness” that is about more than merely physical form, encompassing the car’s stature and aura. We spent our days grappling with the question of “inheritance and evolution” - what aspects of Centuryness do we retain, and what do we try to evolve.”

Under the ceremonial suit, the Century hides a hybrid powertrain consisting of a 3.5-liter V6 engine, a CVT, and all-wheel drive thanks to a rear-mounted electric motor. This system is good for 406 horsepower. For now, there’s no mention of a V8 engine, let alone a V12, which the second-generation Century was equipped with starting in April 1997.

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